SWR budget features 5.5% spending hike

04/10/2013 2:00 PM |
JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO  |  The Shoreham-Wading River School Board at Tuesday night's meeting.

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON FILE PHOTO | The Shoreham-Wading River School Board at a meeting earlier this year.

Taxpayers in the Shoreham-Wading River School District will vote on a $66.1 million 2013-14 school budget this spring after the Board of Education adopted the proposed spending plan at its meeting Tuesday night.

The proposed budget represents a roughly 5.5 percent spending increase from this year’s plan and will preserve classroom and extracurricular programs by pulling extra funds from the district’s state aid reserves, school officials said.

The proposed tax levy — the total amount the district can collect from taxpayers — would increase by 2.29 percent. The increase can be higher than the usual 2 percent statewide cap on levy increases because of certain exemptions approved by the state, said district superintendent Steven Cohen.

The district recently learned it will receive more state aid than expected next school year, school officials said. The extra funds will go into a capital fund for improvements to district facilities, Mr. Cohen said.

School board officials said that while next year’s proposed budget keeps school programs intact, it will be difficult in future years to find ways to trim the budget to fit under the tax levy cap, largely because of increases in teacher salaries and benefits that will outstrip the pace of the cuts.

“You have to look at what we were able to do with this budget with the restrictions handed to us,” said board president William McGrath.

Since the proposed budget is within the tax levy cap, it only requires a majority to pass.

If the budget fails, the tax levy would not be allowed to increase and the district would have to cut middle and high school clubs, middle school athletics, three clerical positions and one teacher to cut $1.1 million for a contingency budget, Mr. Cohen said

• Security at Shoreham-Wading River schools dealt with two minor incidents last week, school officials said during the meeting.

In the first incident, a suspicious car was seen near the high school on April 2. The car was determined not to be a danger, officials said. Two days later, security spotted a man using prescription drugs in the parking lot. Both incidents were quickly dealt with, Mr. McGrath said.

psquire@timesreview.com

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